A study of plants commonly purchased in popular department stores has shown that more than half have been treated with neonicotinoids, a pesticide pegged as a primary culprit in the death of millions of bees.
And yet, plants containing this bee poison are often sold as “bee friendly."
It means that gardeners intent upon creating bee-friendly environments in their backyards may instead be setting up the opposite -- a booby trap for bees that is contributing to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).
The study looked at 18 location in Canada and the United States. The plants were purchased from Lowe’s, Wal-Mart and Home Depot. Just over half, 36 of 71 plants, contained enough neonicotinoids to kills bees. See Study Here
Since 1994, the use of neonicotinoids has become widespread in American agriculture. Virtually all corn seeds are treated with neonicitinoids, as ar many other crops, including soy, wheat, sugar beats and canola.
After the seed is planted, the pesticide is absorbed through the roots of the plant and is distributed through the leaves and stems. When noxious insects bite it, they die.
Unfortunately, killing unwanted bugs also means killing the most important insects in the world -- bees. Without bees, two-thirds of a food human beings eat would go unpollinated. If there were no bees, the world’s food supply would be devastated in just a few years.
Neonicotinoids are manufactured by Bayer CropScience, Syngenta, and Dow AgroSciences -- all of whom maintain that neonicotinoids do not harm bees in the wild.
Scientists at Bayer say the studies which show neonicotinoids are killing bees are flawed. They say the studies have only been done in laboratory settings, not in the field.
The majority of other scientists disagree, however. The study which found neonicotinoids garden plants was led by Timothy Brown, Ph.D. and Susan Kegley, Ph.D. of the Pesticide Research Institute. The study was rigorously peer reviewed by a variety of mainstream scientists at the University of Pennsylvania, University of Minnesota and others.
Because the majority of world scientists now agree that neonicotinoids are deadly to bees, they have been largely banned in Europe. Ironically, Bayer, a German corporation, cannot sell the product in its own backyard -- but they do excellent business here in the United States.
In the U.S., the EPA has delayed doing anything about neonicotinoids until 2016, or possible as late as 2019, when the review process for these chemicals is scheduled for completion.
In the meantime, beekeepers are reporting ongoing calamitous losses from their hives, costing them millions of dollars. Here in parts of northwest Minnesota, many honey producers have already given up, declaring this area a "dead zone" for bees. See story
Fortunately, for common house and garden plants, the Minnesota Legislature has passed laws forbidding local sellers from labeling neonicotinoid-treated plants as "bee friendly," but this has no effect on the real source of the problem -- modern agriculture.
Most worrisome is the potential for this situation to produce the large-scale collapse of the world's basic food production system, and the chaos that would follow.